Archive for November, 2010

A Person to Avoid

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The literature of divorce and family law includes a character called the Batterer. Sometimes unsuspecting woman marry him without a clue just how miserable he can make life.

The Batterer is the man who, though he can be extremely charming and seductive early in the relationship, later becomes angry and possessive and, worse, abusive later in the relationship.

Psychologists say that very often the Batterer fits a profile: abused as a child or a witness to child abuse, he lacks communications skills, frequently denies his own actions, and refuses to take responsibility for them. He blames others, very often his partner, but becomes very easily threatened by the possibility of her departure. The Batterer is jealous, possessive and controlling, and he becomes violent when he does not get his way. Sometimes the Batterer’s partner becomes a victim of a cycle of violence: smaller acts of abusive behavior – verbal and punching and pinching – become more and more frequent and culminate in a violent loss of control – “a good beating,” after which the Batterer is filled with apparent remorse and promises “to be better.”

In 95 percent of domestic violence situations, the man attacks the woman, and in most all of these situations, the man is a Batterer.

Police dread the Batterer because when they have to intervene in a domestic dispute, very often he will be there.

A woman married to a Batterer is married to a dangerous man.

Ways to Settle a Divorce Out of Court

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Many divorce lawyers now encourage their clients to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) when they want to end their marriages.

ADR is an umbrella term that includes collaborative negotiations, where the couple talk face to face with their lawyers acting as referees; mediation, where a third-party acts as neutral party to help the couple work out their differences; arbitration, where they rent a private judge who decides what a fair and reasonable settlement is.

Some jurisdictions mandate that divorcing couples must at least try to some form of ADR, although the parties retain the right to go to court if it fails.

Only courts can grant divorces but the objective of all ADR methods is a written settlement agreement memorializing the terms and conditions of the property settlement, alimony and child support and visitation. When this happens, a judge can rule on its fairness and grant the divorce.

ADR offers a number of advantages over a court battle. One, though mediation, collaboration and arbitration are not cheap, they are less expensive (emotionally and financially) than court warfare. Two, experiences have demonstrated that divorcing spouses are more likely to abide a negotiated settlement than one that is imposed by a court.

Don’t Just “Get on the Bus, Gus”

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Simon and Garfunkel wrote a popular song called “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.” That may be true for lovers, but for married folks there is only really one way – the right way. And that does not mean walking out the door.

Abandonment, which is also called desertion, is a fault ground for divorce in some jurisdictions.

It not the same as leaving the marital home as part of a trial separation to “sort out feelings,” or moving out as part of a permanent separation undertaken in preparation for filing a divorce at a later date.

Abandonment means one spouse leaves the other without cause and without permission. Depending upon the jurisdiction, the missing spouse must be gone for six months to a year before the departure is considered abandonment.

No one can legally end a marriage, even a common law marriage, just be walking out the door. A person who abandons his or her spouse and children may find arguing for custody of the children later is much more difficult.

People who want to end a marriage should, to borrow again from Simon and Garfunkel, “make a new plan, Stan.” Walking out the door makes the divorce that very often happens later anyway even more difficult.